An open letter to my son

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 5, 2015

By Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Perhaps as you read this on Saturday, I will be going through one of those big parental milestones. Today, my firstborn will be graduating from high school. What follows is a letter to my son.

Dear Caleb,

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It really seems like yesterday when I stood at the bedside and watched you come into the world. On that day I was a lot more stressed out than Mom! She was having the baby, but I was the one who was about to hyperventilate. But I eventually relaxed and was simply overwhelmed with joy and awe as I held you in my arms.

This “joy and awe” stage was soon replaced by the “shock” stage as we brought you home and quickly realized that our lives had changed considerably.

First, you tended to sleep during the day and cry at night. I remember frantically thumbing through the index of the “What To Expect The First Year” book. But life soon settled down, and you and I settled into a pattern that goes on to this day — we loved each other’s company.

You have no idea how happy it made me to carry you around in my arms and later on my shoulders. Playing with you, laughing with you, reading to you, and just being with you brought me unspeakable joy.

A brief period of adjustment was needed when we took you to school for your first day of kindergarten. But we adjusted, and as you moved from babyhood into boyhood, time with you was just as sweet.

Our many indoor football games got a little rougher, and our basketball shooting contests got a little more competitive. Now you could begin to keep up with what was happening on Sportscenter and you began to get into watching games and following teams as much as me.

Fortunately, you liked the Yankees and Redskins like your dad. (What would I have done if you had somehow liked the Red Sox or Cowboys?)

As you moved into the middle and high school years, our relationship got deeper. Now we could go on father-son trips to Washington, D.C., and New York and have a blast hanging out. Taking you to games, museums, and favorite foodie haunts has been a joy.

The same can be said for going hunting with you. When I killed my biggest buck two years ago, the first thing I did was call you, because you couldn’t be there that day, and I wanted us to somehow share the moment.

During these years our conversations have gotten much deeper. We are starting to relate not only as father and son, but man to man, and I love it. Your maturity far exceeds mine at the same age.

I love the young man you have become, son. It is incredibly cool to have a son you trust, respect and even admire.

And once again I find myself looking on in awe. The sharpness of your mind and the softness of your heart are going to carry you far.

As you prepare to go to college, we’ll enter yet another phase. But know this: Your dad loves you to the moon and back, and your heavenly Father loves you even more.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.